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How to perform a proper hip check


Your hip, your body’s largest ball-and-socket joint, is designed to withstand repeated motion and a fair amount of wear and tear.

Whenever your hip moves, a cushion of cartilage helps prevent friction while the hip bone moves in its socket.

When it is working well, your hip fits together in a way that creates fluid, painless movement.

Despite its durability, the hip joint isn’t indestructible and occasionally, disease and conditions in other areas of your body – including your knees or lower back – create hip pain.

If you feel pain inside your hip or in your groin, you probably have a problem within the hip joint itself.

If you have pain on the outside of your hip, upper thigh or outer buttock, you probably have a problem with your tendons, ligaments, muscles, and/or soft tissues surrounding your hip joint.

Arthritis and/or injuries, and even climbing in and out of your rig throughout the years may lead to hip pain and/or injury.

One common hip injury is a labral tear, which involves tearing the ring of cartilage (labrum) that follows the outside rim of the socket of your hip joint. The labrum forms a ring around the edge of the bony socket of the joint and works like a rubber gasket to help hold the ball of the top on the thighbone within the hip socket.

The labrum provides stability to the joint by deepening the socket; yet, it also allows flexibility and motion because it is suppler than bone.

A hip labral tear may be caused by structural abnormalities, trauma, or repetitive motions.

Activities that include repetitive motion which accelerates joint wear and tear, leading to a hip labral tear often include sudden twisting or pivoting motions, such as: golf, soccer or football.

Other repetitive movements impacting the hip may be part of your regular workday, such as: getting in and out of your rig, securing your load, conducting your pre-trip inspection, tarping, and/or cranking your landing gear.

If so, be sure to continually adjust your patterns of movement to avoid a hip injury.  Don’t load your hip with your full body weight when your legs are positioned at the extreme ends of your hip’s normal range of motion.

If you are unable to avoid the activities that put a lot of strain on your hips, protect the labrum by conditioning the surrounding muscles through strength and flexibility exercises.

If you do experience a labral tear, you may not notice any signs or symptoms.

However, if a piece of tissue gets pinched in your joint, you could feel a locking, clicking or catching sensation in your hip joint, and pain in your hip or groin.

To relieve minor hip pain, try the following:

Do some gentle exercise – even if the exercise causes some slight discomfort, increasing the blood flow to the hip can speed up the healing process.

Lose a bit of weight – even five to 10 pounds significantly decreases the strain on your hips.

Rest – avoid repeatedly bending at the hip and putting direct pressure on the hip; try not to sleep on the painful side.

If possible, avoid prolonged sitting. When driving, shift in your seat often to adjust your hip’s pressure points. Every time you stop, get out, stretch, and take a short walk before resuming your trip.

Use over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), if necessary.

At night, apply a cold pack by wrapping ice cubes in a towel and placing it against the painful hip area. In the morning, have a warm bath or shower to prepare your muscles for stretching exercises which will reduce your pain and limber up your hip for the day’s activities.

Usually, most hip pain can be controlled with self-care at home. However, when this is ineffective and your symptoms worsen and/or don’t improve within six weeks, make an appointment with your doctor. Medical intervention may be necessary to avoid further injury and to avoid developing osteoarthritis in that joint in the future.

Probably, you will be prescribed non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, or your hip joint may be injected with corticosteroids for pain control.

Physical therapy may also be recommended. A physical therapist would train you to perform exercises to maximize your hip range of motion and to increase your hip strength and stability. By analyzing the movement involved in your daily tasks, a physical therapist could identify which movements stress your hip joint and recommend alternatives that could avoid the stress.

If these less-invasive treatments are ineffective, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery, where a fiber-optic camera and surgical tools would be used to remove or repair the torn piece of labrum.

This winter, take steps to avoid this possibility by reducing your repetitive hip movements. Perform an effective hip check.

***

Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant, and she can be reached at karen_bowen@yahoo.com.


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